The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Pass It On

As the Scriptures say, “People are like the grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. – (1 Peter 1:24-25, NLT)

The Scriptures say, “Our lives are like the grass of spring, and any glory we enjoy is like the beauty of a wildflower. The grass dries up and dies, and the flower falls to the ground. But the word of the Lord lasts forever.” – (1 Peter 1:24-25, ERV)

For as Isaiah said, “All life is like the grass, and its glory like a flower; The grass will wither and die, and the flower falls, But the word of the Lord will endure forever.” – (1 Peter 1:24-25, VOICE)

 

Our life, the very beauty that God grows within us, is fleeting. What is true and lasting is that which He plants within us to pass on to those around us. As we demonstrate the love of God to the people with whom we meet, that which lasts beyond what is seen, is shared with those around us. May we allow the truth of His word to spring up in love, so that what is shown is lasting and life-giving to those with whom we interact.

 

Looks, they are fleeting,Enter With Thanksgiving

But what truly lasts?

The love of the Lord,

To all shall be passed.

The word of the Lord,

Is truth for all time;

It lasts beyond life,

Brings future divine.

For God’s word is shown,

As we choose to love;

Elevate people,

Do as Jesus does.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though what is seen is temporary, the truth of Your word endures forever. Thank You that as we love like we are loved, we share the truth of who You are with those around us. Forgive us for allowing the beauty that You place within us to be hidden rather than allow Your light to shine bright. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love fearlessly and give generously, just as You do unto us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to let Your light shine through our love so that the truth of who You are may be evident in us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Strength that He Brings

Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. – (Romans 16:25a, NLT)

Praise God! He is the One who can make you strong in faith. He can use the Good News I teach to make you strong. – (Romans 16:25a, ERV)

May the glory be to God who can strengthen you with my good news and the message that I preach about Jesus Christ. – (Romans 16:25a, CEB)

 

Faith and strength are poured into our lives as we trust in He who is able to do abundantly more than we could hope or imagine. As we hear the Good News of God, and all that He has done, faith rises and our hearts are strengthened for whatever stands before us. He knows what we need before the need arises, and is ready to provide if we are willing to press in and be present. Not to say that it is always easy, yet each time we make the choice to turn in trust, it is worth it. God shows us His faithfulness as He gives us strength to keep moving forward, when we fear we cannot go on, and He gives us hope to believe that He is indeed present, and that our circumstances will not always remain as they are in the midst of a trial. May we give all glory to God who makes us strong, and grants us the faith to keep pressing on.

 

When trials and struggles, Living a Legacy Life

In life come our way;

Seek the Lord, our God,

What He has to say.

For God is our strength,

He’s able to do;

Far more than we know,

By grace, see us through.

He’ll give us the faith,

To rise and be strong;

Trust Him and His word,

All of our days long.

Let our voices raise,

As with praise, we sing;

Glory to our God,

For strength that He brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are able to make us strong, just as You promise in Your word. Thank You that You grow our faith and encourage our hearts to know and trust You more. Forgive us for not trusting or for not giving You all the glory that is due. Teach us to depend on You for strength, and to give You all the glory for the faith that rises within us. Show us how to love well, all those whom You have placed around us. Use us to strengthen and encourage others, just as You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we give You all glory for the strength You provide, and for the faith that You grow in our hearts. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Trust, for He is Good

But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – (Psalm 13:5-6, NIV)

But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me. – (Psalm 13:5-6, NLT)

 

This morning, for whatever reason, I am just plain tired. The good news is that today is not an ordinary school day. It is an early dismissal day for the students, so the energy required on these days is different than on typical school days. Shortened classes go quickly, and after the students leave for the day, the remainder of the afternoon is spent collaborating with colleagues. In a sense, this is a bit of a rescue from my own exhaustion. Just knowing that I need only rise up until 12:40, is an encouragement in and of itself. At just the right time, there is a break in my ordinary routine, and I feel rescued from the weariness that is threatening. God knows what we can take, and provides precious rest in places where it is needed most. His love never fails, and I am so grateful that He cares about the smallest of details. May we ever trust in the unfailing love of the Lord, and rejoice in the salvation that He has provided. Let our hearts sing praise, for He is always good.

 

I trust in Your love,Be Transformed 1

My God and my King;

For You’re always good,

And rescue, You bring.

Salvation from death,

But also You give;

Love, strength, hope and life,

So we truly live.

Let our hearts choose sing,

All praise unto You;

For Your loving grace,

That carries us through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love that saves. Thank You that You rescue us when we lose our way, and You lead us with Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You are good and loving and kind, and that You meet us where we are but do not allow us to stay stuck in spaces we do not belong. Forgive us for not seeking You when we feel stuck, and help us to ever trust in Your grace and strength to be our help and our hope at all times. Show us how to rejoice and give praise to You, as to You alone, all praise is due. Help us to love those around us in tangible ways that help them to see how much You care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love and sing praise to You forever. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Let It Be Yes

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. – (Matthew 26:74, NLT)

 

Peter, who had been one of the three who was closest to Jesus, ultimately betrayed Him in His darkest hour. This must have been particularly painful, as Peter was the only disciple who was mentioned as having followed where Jesus was taken after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Rather than extending support or testifying on His behalf, Peter stood outside at a distance – watching and waiting to see what would happen. In his wait, he was asked three times if he was associated with Jesus. Three times, he denied even knowing Him. After Peter’s third denial, the weight of his words overwhelmed him, and he ran off weeping bitterly at his own weakness in the face of adversity. However, the beauty of Peter’s story is that he does not live the remainder of his life as a broken and remorseful man, but rather Jesus forgives and redeems him, and he goes on to become the rock on which the church is built. Peter’s failure later became the way in which he was restored, as Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Each time Peter responded with a resounding “Yes“, and Jesus followed his “yes” with the call to go out into all the earth and share the good news. Peter went from mess to minister, through the power presented in the forgiveness Jesus provided. May we each seek the redeeming power that Jesus provides as we are willing to say “yes” to Him as He forgives our every sin and shortcoming.

 

Oh Lord as we come,Beside Still Waters

Broken in our sin;

I stand in such awe,

As we’re forgiven.

Your grace overwhelms,

Restores and renews;

Gives rise and purpose,

To all who come choose.

Lord take all our sin,

And wash it away;

Show us how to rise,

To walk well, Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who forgives, heals and restores us and raises us up so that we can do mighty things for You. Thank You that our past does not determine our future. Thank You that You can bring beauty from ashes, and testimonies from trials. Forgive us for wallowing in our own failures, rather than seeking Your forgiveness and redemption. Teach us to trust You more, as Your hand is what moves us in mighty ways. Show us how to love as You love us, so that many may come to know and understand the power of Your forgiveness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for forgiveness, and rely on You to be our strength and guide wherever we are meant to go. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Start to Finish by Faith

The Good News shows how God makes people right with Himself. God’s way of making people right begins and ends with faith. As the Scriptures say, “The one who is right with God by faith will live forever.” – (Romans 1:17, ERV)

This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” – (Romans 1:17, NLT)

 

We are only made right before God through faith in Christ. It is in that space of trust that we are redeemed and made righteous before Him, and granted life everlasting in the Lord. The Good News is that it is God at work in us, rather than us somehow having to measure up on our own. Our part is to seek Him and trust Him, and allow His Spirit to reign and rule in our lives. As we do, we are transformed more and more into His likeness, and His plans and purposes are accomplished both in us and through us. May we choose to seek and trust the Lord, as He is the One who makes us right in His sight by faith.

 

The Good News of God,No Matter What Comes

Is that we’re made right;

When we seek the Lord,

Redeemed in His sight.

It’s only by faith,

That new life is ours;

All is accomplished,

Trust Him where we are.

Life everlasting,

Is granted to all;

Who choose to seek Him,

He answers each call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You make us right in Your sight by faith. Thank You that when we seek You and trust in You, You supply what is needed to further fuel our faith. Thank You that You are the Author and Finisher of our faith. Forgive us for not seeking You in our need. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come before You in all things and at all times, knowing that You are who You say You are. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they may see Your faithfulness and goodness through our kindness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place all of our faith in You, trusting You to accomplish all that You promise that You will do in us and through us. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Maintain the Message

Those men who were considered to be important did not change the Good News message I tell people. (It doesn’t matter to me if they were “important” or not. To God everyone is the same.) – (Galatians 2:6, ERV)

It makes no difference to me (or to God for that matter) if people have power or influence. God doesn’t choose favorites among His children. Even the so-called pillars of the church didn’t contribute anything new to my understanding of the good news. – (Galatians 2:6, VOICE)

 

The point Paul is making in this verse is that when God calls us to speak the truth of His Word, all are an equal opportunity audience. In other words, we should not be intimidated to speak the very same truth that we share with our children to those who are in positions of power and influence. God sees everyone the same, and longs for all to come to know Him. When God gives us words to say, we need to simply speak them, rather than worry about how they will be received by those who hear. May our hearts be open to His words, so that we are prepared to speak the truth in love as He asks.

 

No one should try change,The Word of God

The truth of God’s word;

None are so mighty,

Nor by God, preferred.

We are all equal,

In God’s precious sight;

Dearly loved children,

In whom He delights.

He speaks to our hearts,

True words we can share;

Encouragement, love,

Comfort and His care.

Be brave and be bold,

Choose speak truth in love;

Let not fear of man,

Hold you in what was.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the truth of Your word remains the same, and that no one can change that, regardless of their power or position. Thank You too, that what You call us to, You also equip us for, and You do not choose favorites among us. Thank You that we are all equally loved and valued as Your precious children. Forgive us for being intimidated by some, and allowing our perceptions of others to influence what we do or don’t say, despite what we know You have asked us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would speak the truth of Your word through our words and deeds in all things and at all times, regardless of who is near. Show us how to love people as we are loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen and let our lives speak truth, no matter who is near. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Belief in the Hearing

Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? – (Galatians 3:5, NIV)

 

God, in His goodness, gives us the gift of His Spirit, not because we follow the letter of the law, but rather because we choose to believe the truth that we have heard. Our belief, our very faith, can only exist if we hear the good news. It is in the hearing that our faith is established, and the wonder of His works become made known. With eyes and hearts wide open, we recognize the mighty miracles, great and small, that take place in and around us all the time. May our faith be firmly rooted and established in the truth that we hear from Him.

 

May God in His grace,belief-in-the-hearing

Continue to show;

That all comes through faith,

His Spirit makes known.

Let our belief rise,

In wonder and awe;

At who the Lord is,

Not following laws.

Free from the burden,

The weight the law made;

By faith we are free,

To walk in His ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are no longer tied to the burden of observing the letter of the old laws, but rather we are saved by believing and trusting in You. Thank You that You grow our faith as we listen and trust in the truth that we hear of You. Forgive us for trying to do enough or be enough to somehow earn Your favor. Teach us to trust that investing our hearts into knowing You more, is far greater than a laundry list of doing. Show us how to love others well out of the overflow of what You have given unto us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk in the freedom of our faith, trusting You to lead us and guide us in the direction that we are meant to go. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25